Our Team

We are the stewards of Laguna Canyon, advocating for our open space as the leading organization for education, public outreach, habitat restoration and trailwork in the canyons. We are a bridge between the open space and the surrounding world.

  • Photo of Adam Verrell

    Adam Verrell

    Restoration Coordinator

  • Photo of Alan Kaufmann

    Alan Kaufmann

    Restoration Program Director

  • Photo of Alex Anderson

    Alex Anderson

    Field Educator

  • Photo of Alyssa Moreno

    Alyssa Moreno

    Restoration Technican II

  • Photo of Brittney Dantuono

    Brittney Dantuono

    Restoration Technician II

  • Photo of Cameron Davis

    Cameron Davis

    Outreach Manager

  • Photo of Corey Stafford

    Corey Stafford

    Restoration Technician

  • Photo of Hallie Jones

    Hallie Jones

    Executive Director

  • Photo of Joanne Nolin

    Joanne Nolin

    Field Educator

  • Photo of Josie Bennett

    Josie Bennett

    Restoration Manager

  • Photo of Kaysha Kennedy

    Kaysha Kennedy

    Field Educator

  • Photo of Paula Olson

    Paula Olson

    Outreach Director

  • Photo of Robin Matthews

    Robin Matthews

    Restoration Technician II

  • Photo of Sean Zulueta

    Sean Zulueta

    Field Educator

  • Photo of Sheccid Gonzalez

    Sheccid Gonzalez

    Restoration Technician

  • Photo of Sydney Jones

    Sydney Jones

    Philanthropy Manager

  • Photo of Theresa Karasek

    Theresa Karasek

    Operations and Communications Director

Adam was born and raised in the great state of Washington. A lifetime of love for the natural world led him to study Conservation Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle, earning a BS in 2015. Coupling his interests with a passion for adventure, he has worked in habitat restoration in the Ecuadorian Amazon, earned a permaculture certification in Costa Rica, worked on organic farms in locations ranging from Belize to New Zealand, and was most recently part of an eco-friendly landscaping crew in Portland, Oregon. Hands-on experience in a wide variety of ecosystems has given him a strong background in sustainable land management and ecological principles, which he now brings with him to his restoration work in the canyon.

He relocated to Orange County in late 2017 and his three favorite things are:

  1. Salamanders
  2. Ginkgo Trees
  3. Quinoa

Alan is the Restoration Program Director and oversees the Habitat Restoration, Fuel Modification and Trail Stewardship work that LCF does in and around the South Coast Wilderness. In the five years since Alan joined LCF, this program has grown from one part-time employee to a team of eight, and from managing a few projects to over twenty projects impacting nearly 200 acres. Alan has always been passionate about the outdoors and has spent a decent chunk of his life living and working there, including leading wilderness expeditions, wildland firefighting, practicing and teaching primitive skills, working on backcountry trail crews and researching the effects of prescribed fire and mechanical thinning on forest ecosystems. When he’s not at work, he can generally be found spending time with his two incredibly wonderful daughters, in his shop building knives, or geeking out on science fiction, historical weapons, martial arts or maker culture.

Alex Anderson is a field instructor who finds supreme joy in inspiring young minds to appreciate and respect the nature all around us. Born and raised in Laguna Beach, Alex fell in love with the colorful tidepools and dusty backcountry trails of her hometown. As Laguna’s popularity grew, so did its visitorship and Alex worked as a docent with Laguna Ocean Foundation to educate the public about how they can protect the precious resources that make Laguna a magical place to experience. In her free time Alex searches for rare birds with her “binos,” (binoculars),  pretends to be a mermaid as she swims  in Woods Cove, and tends to her native plant garden.

 

 

As a Restoration Technician, Alyssa works with the restoration team and restores disturbed habitats by planting native species and removing invasive plants. To some, working outdoors 40 hours a week may seem rough, but for Alyssa, it’s the best thing about her job. She feels most at home outdoors and strives to help protect and restore wilderness areas for others to enjoy for generations to come. She earned her Bachelors’ Degree in Kinesiology from California State University Long Beach, but eventually found her passion for conservation and restoration through the California Conservation Corps (CCC) where she lived out of a tent for six months doing trail work in the remote backcountry of the Trinity Alps Wilderness. She also worked with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and built trails at 12,000 feet on Mt. Columbia, one of Colorado’s 58 “fourteeners.” A self-proclaimed “master of none,” Alyssa also is a freelance graphic designer, plays several instruments and is an avid snowboarder.

Brittney is a Restoration Technician working right where she loves to be – outside with the plants! Whether it’s planting, weeding or watering, she is enthusiastically caring for the native habitat of Laguna Canyon. Brittney earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology from Cal Poly Pomona and has been inseparable from the outdoors ever since. Aside from hanging out with wildlife and vegetation, she can be found in a yoga class, hiking, or in another state or country because she can’t seem to cure her love of travel.  

You’ll likely see (and hear) Cameron out on the trails either leading a parade of energetic students on a hike or covered in dirt, planting with volunteers at a Keep It Wild stewardship event. She is a committed naturalist, connecting people of all ages to the native habitat through public programs and experiential learning in the field. Cameron co-manages Laguna Canyon Foundation’s Title I School Education Program and the Keep It Wild Stewardship Program. She is certified through the National Association for Interpretation as a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG). When she’s not in the canyon she is in the sea – it’s as simple as that. But there’s a great chance you’ll run into Cameron out on the trails talking to strangers about flowers or staring up at the sky looking for birds…legend has it that she may never leave the wilderness, as her students say if you howl out into the canyon, she may return your call.

Corey has lived in southern California for most of his life, other than a brief stay in the Bay Area where he attended California State University, East Bay earning a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and a Certificate in Cartography and GIS. Professionally, he has conducted surveys for the federally endangered Pacific Pocket Mouse and federally threatened Coastal California Gnatcatcher, which has pushed him to continue conservation within the environmental field. In his free time, Corey loves catching waves at the beach, watching Anaheim Ducks hockey, and quoting his favorite show The Office any chance he gets. 

 

Hallie is the Executive Director of Laguna Canyon Foundation. She heads up LCF’s advocacy efforts, fundraises, and makes sure staff have the tools and resources to do their jobs. She was born and raised in Laguna Canyon. After a brief stint in Washington DC and almost fifteen years in Los Angeles working in marine conservation for Heal the Bay, she joined Laguna Canyon Foundation in 2013. Hallie lives in Laguna with Atticus the lab and her two kids, some of whom enjoy camping, hiking and being outdoors just as much as she does. She loves good beer, and according to her kids, her favorite food is kale.

If you are on the trail and see a very “mature” woman surrounded by a group of elementary school children, you have found Joanne.  Her passion is working outdoors and helping children and adults discover and explore the wonders of nature and the wilderness.  She has a BA in Child Development from California State University Long Beach and has been an educator and instructor in classroom and business settings where she developed training programs for both children and adults. Joanne stays busy doing the things she loves. She spends a great deal of time in Hollywood with her grandson, shooting hoops (not very successfully) with him which makes them both laugh a lot. She’s also become his ersatz Uber driver on the very congested streets of Hollywood and as far out as his high school in Encino.

Josie is a field biologist with experience implementing habitat restoration and monitoring at various sites in Orange County. She studied Biology at California State University, Long Beach and received a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with an emphasis on Ecology and Environment, and is certified through the National Association for Interpretation as a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG). As LCF’s Restoration Manager, Josie makes good use of her expertise in our local natural history, overseeing habitat restoration projects and conducting wildlife surveys and managing our restoration crew.  Josie also enjoys traveling, growing vegetables in her community garden, and subsequently supplying the entire office with cucumbers.

Kaysha is an educator for the South Coast Wilderness Education Program. She teaches students about native flora and fauna in the Laguna Coast Wilderness and how they can help conserve the area. Kaysha’s love for conservation started as a kid, when her parents would take her to the beach and let her get ever so close to the elephant seals in northern California. This passion for wildlife led Kaysha to California State University, Fullerton, where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology, with a concentration in marine biology. Kaysha has taught both marine and terrestrial outdoor education since 2017 and has conducted research at her university for restoration on local marine species. Kaysha’s main mission in life is to save the oceans which goes hand-in-hand with saving terrestrial wilderness. When Kaysha isn’t nerding out about the local wildlife, she’s diving, hiking, and camping with it all over the world.

What does it mean to do “outreach” for Laguna Canyon Foundation? Ask Outreach Director Paula Olson and you’ll get answers like “to share a love of the land,” and “to inspire and be inspired.” Outreach also means Paula works on marketing, writes grants, and directs our wonderful volunteer and education programs. During her career as a marketing executive in the insurance, media and farming industries, Paula has led very diverse projects, from overhauling a company’s digital presence to establishing hundreds of edible gardens in California and Arizona K – 12 schools. A Southern California native and granddaughter of immigrants, her guiding star is Laguna Canyon Foundation’s vision to be “a bridge between the wilderness and surrounding world” especially important for the Title I students with whom she hikes. Paula lives along a canyon in Laguna Beach with her husband, Brian, and their two rescue dogs, Reggae and Joan Miró. Off the trails, she is commissioner of her Family Fantasy Football League, Bad Shrimp, and her favorite yoga pose is Lizard. 

 

Robin likes to describe her job as a glorified landscaper. Her favorite part of the season is planting, which starts each November. Every day is filled with new experiences, including seeing many kinds of wildlife. Robin is currently attending Cal State Long Beach to earn a degree in Environmental Geography, furthering her knowledge in the field she’s so passionate account. She loves adventuring outdoors in her free time, from hiking to camping to rock climbing. She’s been told people hear her before they see her.

Quote from Robin: “I love plant.”

Sean is one of the newer field instructors for Laguna Canyon Foundation. When he isn’t educating the public at the Laguna Beach tidepools, he leads elementary school students and their parents and teachers on experiential hikes in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Before graduating with a BS from California State University, Fullerton, Sean assisted with a variety of research projects in vastly different ecosystems.  They included the far depths of the sea off the coast of Southern California, the last place on Earth (aka Zzyzx) in the high desert of the Mojave National Preserve and the dry forests of Baja California Sur. With his extensive research and industry experience, he hopes to be a role model for all students to inspire a new generation of scientists. When Sean is not working outdoors, you might find him on his laptop searching for the funniest memes, playing video games, or enjoying a cup of nitro cold brew coffee at a local coffee shop.

This is Sheccid’s first season doing field work as a Restoration Technician with Laguna Canyon Foundation. She recently graduated from Saddleback College’s School of Applied Sciences in Ecological Restoration, and is excited about the new learning opportunities and challenges – both mental and physical – offered by her job as Restoration Technician. In her free time, Sheccid frequents the beach to swim in the ocean and explore tide pools. She also enjoys visiting new libraries to check out and discover books of interest within the nonfiction selection.  

 

No Relation to Hallie Jones

Whether she’s applying for grants, meeting with amazing collaborators, or thanking our wonderful donors, Philanthropy Manager Sydney Jones never has a dull moment. Sydney stumbled into the nonprofit world by a happy coincidence, and she’s not looking back. She began working for LCF part-time in January 2017, and quickly showed an affinity for all aspects of philanthropy and relationship building, paving the way to now managing LCF’s fundraising efforts. When she’s not fantasizing of nonwasting endowments or multi-year general operating grants, you can probably spot her around town with her poodle-in-crime, Rory, formally known to most as LCF’s Vice Pooch.

As Operations and Communications Director, Theresa manages the administrative side of Laguna Canyon Foundation’s work. She handles the organization’s finances, human resources, IT, and copyediting – if it doesn’t fall under someone else’s job description, it’s probably her responsibility! Theresa’s passion for conservation brought her to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned her master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management. When she’s not saving the planet through the magic of bookkeeping, Theresa enjoys baking, reading, and patiently explaining the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek to anyone who will listen.

Want to know more?

Come to one of our events and chat with staff and volunteers.  We’d love to meet you.

Volunteer